A list of best YA historical fiction books every teen and high schoolers need to read. The stories of WWII – narrated from different perspectives – survivors, Jews, and even Germans for today’s kids to know. Learn how slavery started in America. Read how the tragedy of yellow fever and Wilhelm Gusloff ship left many dead. Ethnic tribes’ contribution to America during WWII is important to understand American history. The historical adventure novels are a must-read for thrill-seekers. This booklist is for young history lovers.
You can find them in your local library or nearby bookstores. If unavailable locally, you can click on the links or images below to purchase from Amazon.
25 Best YA Historical Fiction Books Teens Love
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A young teenager Hanneke, gets sucked into a web of mysteries while trying to help someone. And it gets increasingly dangerous for her. Story of survival, love, hope, devotion in the devastating Nazi war.
Read For: Intense YA read with World War II settings
The other part of war through German childrens’ eyes. As Russians advance at the end of WWII, many German children fled. Read the tale of a not-yet teenager girl fleeing through the forest while caring for her younger brother and baby sister. Staying alive is a struggle.
Read For: Emotional realistic historical fiction
Read the horror of the 1793 yellow fever plague in Philadelphia through the eyes of a 14-year-old. Young Mattie Cook is full of dreams. But things change when the entire city starts getting sick and crematoriums full. A realistic fiction read for teens.
Read For: A moving tale of historic tragedy
Alice’s grandmother passed away and left her a Paris apartment no one knew about. Now the Sixteen-year-old Alice is in Paris uncovering many family secrets. There are lots of answers to be found. The story travels to Nazi-occupied Paris. The narration keeps shifting between WWII times and the current day.
Read For: Engrossing teenage historical fiction
Savannah, an African American girl is born in privileged background. And happy with life. But she gets drawn to the suffragist movement. Slowly her eyes open to the inequalities. Will the young girl risk her comfort and fight to change the world.
Read For: Must-read history for high school classroom
Experience the events leading up to American Revolutionary War. 14-year-old Johnny injured his hand and lost his apprentice silversmith job. His new job as a newspaper boy brings him many exciting encounters. A book, sure to start a discussion on the society of that era.
Read For: Newbery Medal winner classic historical fiction
This fictional story is based on the tragedy of the ship Wilhelm Gusloff in 1945. 9K+ people died. The story is narrated through 4 characters from different parts. There are secrets and plenty of interesting plot developments. Chapters are shorts and easy to read.
Read For: Historical fiction novel based on a real tragedy
Ten-year-old Alex Maki, a Japanese American, unwittingly became pen-pal with Charlie, a Jewish girl from Paris. As World War II starts, their friendship is put to test with every development in the war. The horror of the war starts taking a toll.
Read For: An relevant WWII friendship story for YA
Set in 1832, 13-year-old Charlotte is returning home to America from a boarding school in England. As she boards the ship alone, Charlotte gets embroiled in many controversies. And even get accused of murder. Charlotte’s transformation from a prim and proper teen to a young woman of courage and conviction will hook the readers.
Read For: A gripping tale of courage in old era
A heroic tale of Navajo tribe and their contribution to the war. Fighting for a country that tried to erase the Navajo language and culture, young Ned’s fight is a moving tale. Navajo code talkers helped save countless American lives. An inspiring tale must-read for today’s youth.
Read For: Lesser known history of an ethnic American tribe’s contribution
17-years-old Ukrainian-Polish Tolya, joined the Soviet Red Army. But after a mishap, he is on the run. Rescued by Ukrainian freedom fighters Tolya does not know whom to trust! A story of betrayal, loyalty, revenge. All conflicts of war and human emotions are portrayed really well.
Read For: Fast-paced WWII YA thriller
In 1946 New York City, a young girl Eva holds a powerful secret – Project Bluebird. Both Americans and Soviets want it. And what about the Justice Eva is seeking! An eye-opening read for parts of the war and world politics.
Read For: Historical thriller with politics
Get a glimpse of the difficulties of life in 1920 Ireland. A magical story about the choices Anne has to make. The fictional tale is woven beautifully along with historical events.
Read For: Bestseller YA historical romance
Read the story of brave young women in 1939 Poland. Her happy life with her husband and two kids are shattered when WWII breaks. As jews start getting killed, the family is forced to flee through a dangerous forest. A mandatory classroom read.
Read For: Holocaust survivor story based on a real event
In 1426, Joseon Hwani and her sister mysteriously disappeared and were later found near a forest. A place with a darker history. When Hwani’s father also disappears while investigating, she gets involved. Will Hwani be able to solve the mystery that broke her family?
Read For: Historical Mystery set in Korea
Read the story of a 16-year-old Polish woman Stefania, who hid 13 Jews in her attic during WWII. A story based on a true tale. Read the everyday choices the young girls had to make – survival, feeding 13 people, taking care of her younger sister.
Read For: Strong historical woman character
A story of the native Anishinaabe culture. The challenges and celebrations of the community. A beautifully written book that brings some serious issues to the limelight
Read For: Strong woman and native culture
Read the story of early American times and the establishment of James Town. Twelve-year-old Samuel Collier does not have a mother. His life changes when he boards the ship with Captain John Smith for ‘New World’. The historical facts are accurate. Characters are well developed. Teens would identify with Samuel.
Read For: A companion novel for school history study
A pirate adventure novel through different times. Nix is a Pirate and her captain father can steer the ship to any time, place. When the father wants to take a journey to save her dead mother in past, Nix’s existence is at stake. Readers will surely love the smart, caring teenager Nix.
Read For: Gripping Pirate time travel fantasy
A fictional story of 12-year-old Tara’s struggles to reunite with her family during the Ireland potato famine of 1847. She fled from servant life with her dog Bailey. And then she finds a mysterious bottle. Read about her journey across Atlantic, Canada. The historical facts are well-researched.
Read For: A teen historical fantasy for book-club
Sometimes past history is just difficult to hear. The 1619 project of how slavery started in America, is one such book. It is also difficult to read about mistakes made by the Founding Fathers. They were human after all! Knowledge is power. Kids need to know history to learn from it – good, bad, everything. The history that is not taught in America’s schools.
Read For: Beginning of America’s racism history
Read about Reconstruction time, black history, Civil War through the eyes of young Malcolm. See the changes through Malcolm’s determination, voice, hope. An amazing read for history-loving kids.
Read For: Black history in America
13-year-old Jack just lost his mother. Now he is sent from Kansas to a Maine boarding school. And there he meets Early, a boy in his own world. An unlikely friendship develops. The book has many cultural, historical, literary layers.
Read For: Highly recommended award-winning read
A coming of age story in 1954 Chinatown of San Francisco. Set in a society where sexism, racism were part of everyday life. The protagonist, a Chinese-American girl, Lily is different than other girls and dreams of going to space. The only person who understands her is Kath, a white girl.
Read For: Many social issues and questions
A compelling story of seventeen-year-old student nurse Irene, who became a resistance fighter. Read how she saved Jews, smuggled food, and helped others risking her life. The writing is poetic.
Read For: A real holocaust story